- Associated Press - Sunday, October 26, 2014

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The closure of a charter school in eastern Idaho left nearly 100 students scrambling to find other options.

Odyssey Charter School officials in Idaho Falls closed the school for good in September after deciding not to appeal a decision by the state’s Public Charter School Commission to revoke its charter.

The commission revoked the charter after deciding the school lacked the ability to reach its accreditation standards. The revocation came after the school failed three accreditation readiness visits.

For at least 30 high school students who attended in the 2013-14 school year, transferring credits has been a challenge because few schools accept credits from a non-accredited institution, The Post Register reported Sunday (https://is.gd/gy2vI3).

One mother, Joan Payne, said she’s looking into home schooling or other options for her 17-year-old daughter, Hailee, who enrolled in September.

“Now, there’s no place for her to go,” Joan Payne told the Post Register. “She is just totally devastated.”

Payne said she knew that there was a possibility that the school would close when she signed her daughter up, but she didn’t care at the time because her daughter wanted to go to the school. “She was the happiest I’d seen her in years,” Payne said.

Chris and Karl Peterson opened Odyssey in the fall of 2013. The second-year public charter school in Idaho Falls touted a project-based curriculum and alternative way of teaching. The school used Stephen R. Covey’s book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” as a tool to teach students life skills, according to its website.

Karl Peterson said Odyssey’s issues could have been worked out. He agreed, however, that more leadership experience would have helped.

“I think we had some people who tried really hard and tried to do their best, but we didn’t have the depth of experience and depth of knowledge that we needed,” Peterson told the newspaper.

Public Charter School Commission Director Tamara Baysinger only could recall one other instance - a charter school in Caldwell - in which a school failed to meet candidacy status. That school didn’t close, because the charter school statute at the time was different.

“It’s not easy, there is a high standard, but it’s also straightforward,” Baysinger said.

A few dozen students have transferred to Bonneville Joint School District 93 and Idaho Falls School District 91.

Whether those transfer students graduate on time depends, in part, on their year in high school, said District 93 Superintendent Chuck Shackett. The district offers a self-paced, online credit recovery program for students.

“If a senior is three or four credits behind, that’ll be very difficult,” Shackett said. “But if they’re only a sophomore, that’s very easy to make up.”

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Information from: Post Register, https://www.postregister.com

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